After a chilled out week, including a couple of days away from the bike, I was feeling refreshed and motivated ahead of the double header weekend of elite races.
It is pretty fair to say, after realising straight away in the race that I had refound my legs and was out of the slump, I might have got a little bit excited. The first 20km or so of the race went out on a massive dual carrageway which we then turned off and hit the first climb. The parcours was pretty simple. Flat. VERY bergy. Flat. With the realisation my legs felt pretty good, I may have got a bit carried away. The first hour my normalised power was a fair chunk over threshold. Not entirely sure how that happened. But it was good fun! I rode near the front for the first hour, following moves, trying to get away. I was just really enjoying racing again, which I hadn’t done for a while.
There was a couple guys who had sneaked off the front really early on, and I wanted to join them before the race got hilly. Unfortunatly I didn’t manage to get in a group then bunch would let go, so had to settle with entering the hilly section in the bunch. For the first of the climbs I was well positioned. But clearly the big boys were coming out to play now. I hit a 2min power pb just to stay in the bunch up the climb. This meant that as the climbs came thick and fast, all around 1km but all steep, i started drifting back. I would squeeze through the bunch on the descents and slide back up the climbs. But I managed to keep myself in the group and survived until the race got flat again.
By this point one of the big local teams had hit the front to try and bring back a breakaway they had missed, so there wasn’t much to do but sit in a surf the wheels for the final 40km. The roads were flat and with a strong tail wind the pace was high, but the bunch wasn’t close to getting lined out.
Having done 150km of hard racing, annoyingly I started to cramp up in the final, so I couldnt’t contest the bunch sprint. Thinking back maybe I should of just pushed through. But that is easy to say now, not when you have both quads cramped solid.
It was my first signs of decent legs though, so the moral is a fair bit higher than the previous weeks.
I have to say this is probably the scariest looking parcours i’ve ever seen! I’ll be honest, it wasn’t really for me.
Being the first double header weekend, the legs weren’t quite adjusted to back to back racing yet and I woke up pretty tired.
I don’t want to make any excuses, I was never going to win this race. But on the line, we got gridded in sign on order. And having entered on the day, that meant we were right at the back. And what made this worse, the line was at the top of the climb. So when you are lined up in 70th place, you are half way down the climb. I’m not even exaggerating. The breakaway had gone before I got my feet in the pedals!
The race was just lined out straight away. No hope in hell of being able to move up. Then we hit the descent which was quite technical, which didnt help. That was followed by a long tailwind road, where everyone was fighting for the front to hit the climb first. With a group already gaining time on the bunch the race was fierce. We hit the climb and I started parking pretty fast. A 1.5km climb at 7% but with multiple ramps up at 12% it wasn’t the day for rouleur me.
A grupetto formed, and we rode round a couple laps in the cars, before I dropped off the back on the climb. But then to my surprise, the next time round, they had all abandoned. they were stood at the side of the road. So I just kept riding. And riding. Every lap, more and more riders were stood on the final climb. So I just kept going.
Way down on time, but I finished. 35th. I will take that.
Route des Vignobles:
After some good sensations in training up to this race I was hoping for a good performance. Especially seen as it would be the first TT of the year, even if it was only a 4km prologue. But at least it was something familiar, something I know I can do. And that is always good for the moral.
We got there nice and early so we could drive the course and meet up with the team. It was pretty cool to arrive with the turbos lined up and the chairs out ready to go. We un packed the van and put the TT bikes in the turbos and all set about our own pre-race routines. For me I find this crucial before a time trial effort. You know you are going to the limit, so you have to be in the right place mentally.
It all starts one hour out, once I am in my skinsuit and put on the Rule 28 socks, tighten up my shoes and rub down my legs. Once the headphones go in and the cap goes on, that is it. I won’t talk to anyone till after the TT then, I just focus on getting in the right place and prepared for the effort. Then 40mins to go I get on the turbo and run through my 20min TT warm up. Once off the turbo, the TT helmet goes on and it is off to the start line. All about visualling what is to come.
Down the start ramp, there were a couple of corners out of the HQ, but then onto the main road which was wide open and flat. I got myself up to speed and tucked in, and then it was just all about holding the speed as high as possible over a few very slight rollers. Pushing on and over the climbs to keep the speed high. To be honest it was so short I didn’t even look at my garmin till 1.5km to go. By that point I thought I really had to get a move on. Up the final roller and into the town to cross the line.
It was the first time I had ever ridden a time trial with a radio on and the team car behind. So it was a massive relief to hear I had posted the fastest time by 30 something seconds as I crossed the line.
I hung around at the finish as I knew Oli and Harry wouldn’t be far behind. Apparently the time keeper told Harry before he started I had set the fastest time, to which Harry clarified I was a “chrono specialist”, to which he was asked “en la montees?” and replied merely “no”. Thanks for that…
I was stood with about 20metres to go, and I hear a team car going crazy with the horn, over the crest of the hill comes Harry with Thierry in the team car going mental! He spun the team car around and with a massive smile on his face tells me that we are currently 1,2 with only a couple riders still to go.
We cooled down and headed back to the van, but quickly had to rush back to the podium. We had been confirmed as 1st and 3rd in the standing. Which meant trophies, wine and some jerseys for us!
That afternoon was a 100km hilly road stage. I have to say it was pretty cool rolling to the front of the bunch in a yellow jersey. It soon became clear in the race that a majority of the field seemed more interested in following me than racing the race. My advantage over second place was only 15seconds, maybe 1min over most of the field. Not enough to really shake up the race. But with everyone following me and a breakaway up the road, i’d have to bridge the gap, or tow the bunch with me. And with two teammates up the road I couldn’t do that.
With a big lead out from one of the culture velo boys I tried sending one over the big climb of the day. I got a small gap and started hammering down the descent. But with a strong headwind as we turned back towards the sea, and a 60man peloton content on not letting me do anything I soon got caught. I tried driving over all of the remaining climbs, but there was nothing I could do.
I ended up rolling in with the bunch a couple minutes down on the winning break, losing the jersey, but still sneaking in the top 20 on gc. Not a terrible days work!
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